Greek Orthodox congregation gets ready for Easter

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Easter is this Sunday in the Othodox faith, and that means 200 loaves of Tsoureki  bread are being braided and baked. The bread will be consumed after Easter services at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New Orleans, marking an end to fasting. Helen Malachias, whose son Ilya Malachias oversaw the baking, weighs out a ball of dough Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Easter is this Sunday in the Othodox faith, and that means 200 loaves of Tsoureki bread are being braided and baked. The bread will be consumed after Easter services at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New Orleans, marking an end to fasting. Helen Malachias, whose son Ilya Malachias oversaw the baking, weighs out a ball of dough Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

Members of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New Orleans spent this week — Holy Week for Orthodox Christians — dying eggs and baking Tsoureki in preparation for Easter this Sunday.

Helen Malachias was one of three volunteers who helped make Tsoureki, a sweet braided Easter bread, under the direction of her son, Ilya Malachias, a New York caterer who comes every year to make the bread.

Tsoureki is a special treat after 40 days of fasting from dairy products and meat, Helen Malachias said. It is traditionally eaten in the early morning hours on Easter Sunday, after congregants get home from a midnight service that celebrates Christ’s resurrection.

Eggs, dyed a deep red color, also are part of Easter observances. Orthodox faithful crack the boiled eggs together and say, in Greek, “Christ has risen,’’ with the first crack and “Truly he has risen,’’ with the second.

As for the Tsoureki, Malachias said that making it fairly complicated process — and there are probably thousands of different recipes.